Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Peter on the Daf: Brachos 6A

Gra/Meshech Chochma/Maharsha. Daf Vov amud Aleph
R. Johanan says: Whenever the Holy One, blessed be He, comes into a Synagogue and does not find ten persons there,4  He becomes angry at once.5  For it is said: Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there no answer?6 

And how do you know that if two are sitting and studying the Torah together the Divine Presence is with them? For it is said: Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with another;13  and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name.14   

When two people study Torah together (or even one alone) G-d is present. When HKBH comes to the Beis haKneses and fails to find ten men there he becomes angry. If G-d is happy to join two people learning, why is he unhappy if there are fewer than ten praying?

There were two manifestations of redemption in Mitzrayim. Firstly, by night, "Pidyon" which requires the consent of the imprisoning authority, thus Moshe says to Pharaoh - "if you wish to be exempted from the plagues, tell them (the Jews), "You are Bnei Horin, free.". Secondly, by day, "Motzi" or "Hatzolo" which is achieved even against the will of the imprisoner.

Torah fits within the category of Hatzola; it constitutes Chai Olam and intrinsically cleaves to HKBH and liberates the learner from the physical world. By contrast, Tefillah effects Pidyon as the Gemara says in Mesechta Shabbos (daf Yud), it is "Chai Sha," a lower level kedusha. But to effect even this lower level we need ten davening together. And thus the congregation's lack of recognition of the important role they themselves play causes HKBH to become angry, because G-d has caused the Shechina to precede the congregation to the Beis haKneses to facilitate this creation of kedusha, but they have failed to rise to the occasion.

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